Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Goin' to the zoo, zoo, zoo

I took the boys to the Sacramento Zoo this afternoon. We had a good time.

This picture was actually taken across the street, at a gazebo in the WPA garden near the zoo.

Kids near the bamboo and Douglas holding his map. Douglas spent more time looking at the map than at the animals. Every time we got to one he would furiously check the map and say "Now let's go see the tiger!" or "Now let's go see the anteater!"

Douglas had a hard time seeing the animals unless he was climbing up the fences he was no doubt not supposed to climb on.

Owen checking the spread of his wingspan, relative to the California Condor and others.

Nice kitty

And our friend the giraffe.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Oh yeah.

The iPod. I forgot to mention it. Dan started loading it up last night, with moderate success. It's just another thing to do, but a pretty cool one.

I took the kids to the park most of yesterday afternoon and we saw someone who is in another of the Montessori K-1 classes, a first grader named Lyle. I spoke to his dad (Todd) a bit, who it turns out used to play bass in a band in college. Dan should meet him. We started talking about music because he commented on Douglas's Beatles t-shirt and said he had just gotten Revolver out from the library the day before. Douglas, for his part, felt strongly that his shirt read Batman rather than Beatles.

Owen continues to enjoy the guitar. This past week he started learning some notes, so he's already ahead of me. It's fun to practice.

Monday, January 29, 2007

iPod, you pod, he pods...

Katherine forgot to mention the weekend's most exciting purchase - I got an iPod as an early birthday present (only 16 shopping days left)! Thanks, Katherine! With 30 GBs of storage, I can load about 7,500 songs on it, so that should keep me satisfied through the 3rd or 4th week of February, at least. I haven't loaded it up, yet, but I'm looking forward to figuring it all out.

On the gum front, things are improving. It still feels weird, and I'm not quite up to eating apples, yet, but there's no longer much in the way of pain. I have a post-op appointment this Friday, so we'll see how the doctor thinks things are progressing.

Onward and upward.


We had a pretty quiet weekend. Saturday we went to Vacaville and got some burritos and some new sneakers at the Nike outlet for Owen and Dan. (There were none that fit Douglas, for some reason; loads in larger or smaller sizes, but none his size except for a couple of pairs that were pink.) Yesterday we went to a birthday party for Douglas's friend Helena, who was also turning 3.

We took the kids to a pond along the greenbelt in North Davis yesterday. Owen enjoyed climbing some trees and they were both looking around to see if they could spot a coyote (a few of which have been seen around there recently). They were very disappointed that we didn't see any.

It has warmed up a bit and we had a tiny sprinkling of rain last night. Hopefully we will get some more, but the weather forecast doesn't seem to think so any time too soon.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Drought? and the Auburn Dam

We have had almost no rain in January and there is fairly little snow up in the mountains. There is starting to be rumbling in the Bee about the possibility that this will be a drought year.

I just started reading Assembling California, by John McPhee. It discusses the geologic history of California in general and this area specifically since his guide is UC Davis geologist Eldridge Moores. The chapter I read last night mentions the Auburn Dam on the American River, about an hour or so east of here in the foothills. Apparently the Department of the Interior started building the dam around 1970 or so. Then a big earthquake (5.7) happened near the Oroville Dam, on the Feather River north of here, in 1975. The Oroville, which is an earthen dam rather than the concrete one the Auburn Dam would have been, absorbed the blow. However, that quake was five times larger than the Auburn Dam was built to withstand. Apparently, twenty-five percent of similar sized reservoirs have generated earthquakes as a result of the weight of water that such a dam generates. The Sacramento Bee started running articles in the 70s while the project was being built about the likelihood and results of a cataclysmic earthquake at the dam site. They projected that Sacramento would be 20 feet underwater in two hours if the Auburn Dam were to burst from an earthquake.

That effectively scuttled the project, but it still hangs on with a skeleton staff on site and still plans being made to build it. John Doolittle, the congressman from that district, still advocates building the Auburn Dam. All the more reason why he should have been booted in November, and it was relatively close but Charlie Brown couldn't quite do it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Montessori pageant

Aren't they cute? This is from a different class than Owen's. They sang "Birch Lane Montessori" to the tune of "Gary, Indiana" from The Music Man.

Owen is on the left here, holding one end of the bead chain. The kids in the chain were describing what they do with bead chains in Montessori education. They took turns listing different things, and Owen was last with the two word line, "... and multiplication." He managed to get it out reasonably well.

Here's Owen between Patrick and Nash on the bench as the kids were waiting for the pageant to begin.

Douglas's bday party

Here are some pictures from the party.

Douglas giving Helena a thank-you hug for the present.

Yum, cupcake!

Liam on our couch, looking like he is about to sneeze.

Paul and Douglas bonking each other on the head with balloons. What could be more fun!

Opening gifts


The Cheese Chick in person!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

First school play

Owen has two words in the Montessori celebration, his first school play, which is tonight at 6:30. He seemed to be a little nervous about it this morning. Being Owen, he was worrying that he won't be able to find us once it's over. He is perennially worried about getting separated from us in the library or wherever. Velcro kid.

It was beautiful yesterday afternoon, sunny and 60 or so and not windy. It felt like the first spring day. The kids and I went to Sandy Motley Park with some friends from Owen's class and played basketball and hung around.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Bright College Days...

My friend Pete writes an excellent blog that primarily serves to remind the world that the cool music we listened to as high school and college students was a lot cooler than the music that was imposed upon less fortunate ears. At least, I believe that's the point of it.

Seriously, the blog, elegantly titled the Flowering Toilet, is committed to promoting scarce - and good, mostly - music that is currently unavailable commercially. One of today's posts includes a humorous recap of a concert we attended in college which included an unscripted on-stage appearance by our friend, Mike. Read all about the hilarious hijinks that ensue by clicking here, and make sure to check out the blog regularly.

Dan is feeling better...mostly

Hopefully he will be back to normal by the end of the week.

I'm reading Talk Talk by T.C. Boyle, among other books. It's a really interesting story sort of about identity theft, and also involves a bit about deaf culture since one of the main characters is deaf. Some of it is based in California. There's a scene in which the thief is driving up I-80 towards Sacramento from Marin and dreaming about stopping for filet mignon in Rancho Cordova. I figure Boyle didn't do a lot of research for that part. Filet mignon and Rancho Cordova have never been mentioned in the same sentence before.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Bday party

Douglas had a nice, small birthday party yesterday (3 guests, plus two siblings and several parents). The kids particularly enjoyed decorating their own cupcakes. I also set up rolls of paper outside and they did some painting. The Chinese yo-yos were a big hit with the big kids, and by big hit I mean they did some big hitting with them.

Dan is recovering from surgery pretty well, but his mouth is still a little stiff and achy. But, so far, so good. He may have some very good job news this week (an offer appears to be coming in from the state Senate). Keep fingers crossed.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Poor Dan is under the knife even as I type this. He's having gum surgery for grafts on both the top and bottom of the left side of his mouth. They are supposed to be done in about an hour.

Meanwhile, my friend Christine is coming in tonight (she lives in Portland but has a meeting in San Francisco all about cheese - she is the cheese chick, with the website to prove it). We are having Douglas's birthday party tomorrow afternoon. I hope Dan will be recovered enough to attend!

Thursday, January 18, 2007


My Salvia Chiapensis appears to have bitten the dust due to the cold snap. I hope it will come back in the spring. The pride of Madeira still looks terrible too. The ruellia doesn't look to great either. Other things seem to have survived, more or less.

Supposedly it is warming up. It got to 60 yesterday and we went to the park and played a little soccer and basketball with some friends.

Apparently the youngest professional skateboarder in the country lives around the corner from us. I had read about him in the NY Times Magazine, and had walked by his half-pipe which takes up their entire back yard (they live on the corner of Drexel and Cypress so you can see the half-pipe over the top of the fence as you walk down Drexel), but didn't realize that was where he lived until my neighbor told me.

Owen's in the Montessori program and this year it is the 100th anniversary of Montessori, so they are having a pageant on Tuesday night. He gets to sing, say some lines and help hold the giant bead chain. Bead chains are a Montessori thing (they use them for math) so they made a giant one out of paper mache.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cold, cold, cold

It was 25 degrees at 7:00 this morning, according to our outdoor thermometer. My poor Pride of Madeira looks terrible. I hope it is going to make it. So far no frozen pipes (although I didn't actually check the outside ones this morning).

One of the neighbors on our block died on Saturday morning. She was 85 and had been very sick for a long time, with dialysis and lots of other procedures; she had been in a nursing home since Thanksgiving. That makes 2 deaths in six months on our block (and three in a year if you count the woman who owned the abandoned house at the end of the block; once she died her daughter moved in there, so now it is no longer abandoned). This woman's son has been living there taking care of her, but he also has a house somewhere else in Davis. Apparently he has not yet decided whether he will stay on our street or move back to his other house, and I don't know whether he would sell or rent the house on our street if he does move back.

We rented Rock 'n' Roll High School, featuring the Ramones, on Sunday night. We let the kids see the concert that they show in the movie. They like the Ramones. After that Owen wanted to rock out, although it is kind of hard to get too heavy on a nylon string guitar. He does seem to be enjoying playing, though. In addition to the Ramones, right now they are really into Surfin' USA.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Here's a picture of the inside of our kiddie pool on Saturday morning. It is still cold here. It was 26 when we got up this morning. The pool froze with interesting wavy lines on top of the ice.

And lovely miss Violet. You can sort of see the stubby end of her tail, which is still growing fur back. As you can see she still has plenty of tail left, fortunately. It is healing well and she is doing fine.

Trip to the snow

We went to the Cisco Grove snow park yesterday (around 5500 feet elevation) and went tubing. They had a lift - kind of like the walking sidewalks in airports - that went up the hill, and you bring your tube with you on the lift. There is a guy at the top who helps you get on and lets go and you go flying down the mountain.

Owen loved it, but Douglas thought it was too scary, so he and I did some lower key sledding and snowman-making (although the snow was mostly either too powdery or too icy for making good snowballs).

We also played in the snow and wandered around the area a bit. It was very pretty. There's not much snow on the ground though. We first stopped at Yuba Gap, which is the closest snow park, but they had so little snow on the ground, and it was so icy, that they were turning people away.

Bday cake

I finally uploaded this picture.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A freeze... and loose teeth!

BRRR! It is supposed to get to 24 tonight! That is extremely rare for here, where it often gets to about 29 or 30 in Dec. or January but rarely much below that. I just put our outside faucets on a little drip to hopefully keep anything from freezing. The kids and I also put some water in our kiddie pool, pretending we are scientists to see what happens to the water overnight. There was actually a frozen puddle at Owen's school this afternoon, to my amazement - I haven't seen a frozen puddle for years!

Owen has two loose teeth! Both his left top front tooth and the one below it, the left bottom front, are loose. Almost all of his friends have lost teeth already so he was very ready for a wiggly tooth to happen. He said yesterday after school that his tooth hurt, but we didn't figure out it was loose until last night, and then just a few minutes ago he realized the lower one was also loose. It feels rather weird to wiggle it.

I went into his class today and showed them pictures by Seurat and let them try to make some pointillist drawings. That was fun. Next week we are going to try with Q-tips and paint.

The Group

I'm reading Mary McCarthy's The Group, first published around 1952, which discusses a group of friends - Vassar classmates - beginning shortly after their graduation in 1933. It is interesting to read some of the "advances" of the time; for example, when discussing cooking, one asks the other whether she has tried the new type of lettuce, iceberg - "They'll never eat Boston lettuce again!" and another reports she is eating "alligator pear" which I assume is an avocado. They talk about the "Boston School" of cooking, which seemed to involve Boston lettuce and baked beans, and how they are trying all kinds of new things now.

Another character tries breastfeeding because her husband, a pediatrician, advocates it, but it is such a novelty that everyone is either fascinated or repelled by it (she even has a friend who is in publishing try to get her to write an article about it for Reader's Digest), but eventually it doesn't work out because they have the newborn on a four-hour feeding schedule. Even though he is hungry after 2 hours (of course), she's not allowed to pick him up or feed him, and just wants the nurses in the hospital to let him lie in the bassinet crying for two hours. She can hear him down the hall crying. So of course she doesn't make enough milk since she's not getting enough sucking, and the attempt at breastfeeding fails. It is crazy making to read that section, even though it's fiction, to think of all those poor babies lying there hungry and crying with no one attending to them. What a weird time it was that doctors thought it was bad for some reason to pick up the baby if it is crying, and bad to feed the baby when he's hungry. They even speak derisively in the book of "Grandmother's time" when babies were fed on demand, and picked up when they were crying. What horrible ideas those were, eh? Well I guess it all comes full circle.

There's lots of discussion in the book about who's a Communist, and then the various sub-brands within that - the Trotskyites, the Stalinists, etc. all arguing with one another. That part's interesting as well.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Nice bday

Douglas had a nice birthday. We brought in bubble containers for the kids in his class so they were having fun blowing bubbles yesterday when I came to pick him up. He enjoyed the Spiderman (thanks Mom!) and puzzle (thanks Dad!). I made a cake and decorated it with a fire truck in red icing on top, which he appreciated. His party will be on the 20th, since two of his best friends are out of town this weekend.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Happy birthday Douglas!

Douglas turns the big 3 today! We are having a small party for him on the 20th.

I am keeping the gifts to a minimum especially since it was just Xmas. His present from us is a 3 wheeled Razor scooter. It looks like this.

Monday, January 08, 2007

House values dropping

I read in the Bee this morning that some state employee has a blog about the decline in housing values. It's called "Sacramento Area Flippers In Trouble" and shows houses for sale that sold recently, with previous and current (significantly lower) asking prices. Things definitely seem to be declining. The guy I used to work for here who left for Arizona sold his house a year ago for something like $899,000 and the buyer tried to flip it - put it on the market last January for $1.4 million. It didn't sell and has come on and off the market since then, most recently I think around $799,000.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Davis ... almost famous?

The Jane Austen Book Club, which I read last year and which is set here in Davis, is being made into a movie. I was wondering whether it would be filmed here, but online sites refer to it as being in "post-production" so I guess not. Apparently Lynn Redgrave, Jimmy Smits, Maria Bello and others will star. According to (from Oct 30), "The movie is scheduled to begin shooting Wednesday in Los Angeles."


We went to the UC Davis men's basketball last night. They were trounced by Utah Valley State (or some such team). At the half UCD had 24 (pathetic enough) but they ended up with only 38. The kids enjoyed seeing the Big Blue Horsie (as we call it), the UCD mascot.

We love basketball!

The enormous UC Davis Marching Band-uh!

At left is what happened when one's almost-3 year old commandeers the camera. Interesting image...

Friday, January 05, 2007


Owen had his first guitar lesson last night. Dan went with him. It went very well. The teacher seems very nice (and has a 7 year old boy, so presumably knows what to expect from one). Apparently Owen was pretty quiet during the lesson but right afterward told Dan, "That was AWESOME!" So far, so good.

The school-closing debate drags on. I went to the school board meeting last night and saw the contract demographers present the geocoded school data to the Board. The only exciting part was when an impassioned neighbor of ours became so loud and disruptive that the president of the board threatened to have the police eject him from the meeting.

The task force plans to make their final recommendation to the board in mid-February which means that almost certainly the Board will not make any decision this school year. There won't be the time for them to make any major changes, which would have to include boundary line redrawing. So it's going to continue for another year, I suppose.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Yummy yarn

Dan gave me a gift certificate to In Sheep's Clothing for Xmas, so I scooted over there on Sunday and picked up a load of Louisa Harding Kimono Angora yarn. It looks like the picture at left. I'm going to use it to knit a sweater - which I hope will turn out a little better than the last sweater I attempted. I may have learned my lesson about attempting to knit a cardigan.

Right now I'm in the middle of some socks, which are turning out fairly well.

Toddler exhaustion

In the car on the way home this afternoon, Douglas counted to twenty.

Me: And what comes next?
Douglas: (with irritation in his voice) I'm not going to do the rest.

So far the start of school has gone well for both of them. Douglas is moving over to the "big kids' side" at preschool and visited over there today. So far, so good. Owen seems to be doing well also.

Apparently Owen's best buddy may be moving to the house at the end of our street (his mother is moving out with the kids). He would be thrilled about that.

John Edwards apparently has a "team" (consisting, I believe, of one person) here in Davis. We could join, although I'm not sure we're ready to commit yet.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy new year

We had a nice New Year's Eve - we rented "49 Up" which is the most recent of Michael Apted's 7-up series. We didn't make it to midnight, but pretty close...

Yesterday we played some tennis. Owen is getting better at it. Douglas played in the sandbox next to the tennis court with another little boy who happened to be at the park. They had a great time pretending to be astronauts, creating earthquakes and volcanoes in the sand, etc. Then we went to the Putah Creek Cafe in Winters for lunch. It was a beautiful clear day and we could see snow in the Sierras, which is a rare event as usually it is too hazy or cloudy for us to see the top of the mountains.